NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court today expressed grave concern over farmers' suicide due to indebtedness and crop failure and said it felt the government was going in a "wrong direction" in tackling the real problem.
Asking the Centre to apprise it of the policy roadmap to address the burning issue, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said the issue of farmers' suicide was of "extreme importance" and paying compensation to the families of such victims "post-facto" was not the real solution.
"This issue is of extreme importance. Tentatively, we feel that you are going in a wrong direction. Farmers take loan from banks and when they are unable to repay, they commit suicide. The remedy to the problem is not to pay money to farmers after the suicide, but you should have schemes to prevent this.
"Farmers' suicides have been happening for so many decades and it is surprising that no action has been taken to address the causes behind suicides."
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said "if the matter is moved on a right track, a lot can be achieved" and fixed the plea for further hearing on 27 March.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government has initiated many schemes for farmers and the 2015 crop insurance scheme would drastically reduce such fateful incidents.
The ASG said other schemes also needed to be strengthened to make farmers feel that the government would stand behind them in distress.
The court was hearing the plea, filed by NGO 'Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative' on the plight of farmers in Gujarat and suicide committed by many there. The bench had expanded the scope of the petition to the entire country.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO, said that government policies have been existing since long but the main issue was to implement the schemes on the ground.
He also referred to the studies conducted by renowned agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan and eminent journalist P Sainath on farmer suicides and suggested that they may also be asked to put forth their recommendations and views.
The PIL was confined to Gujarat had sought compensation to the families of 619 debt-ridden farmers who had allegedly committed suicide since 2003.
The NGO had also sought a direction to the state to pay compulsory financial aid of Rs 30,000 per hectare to the farmers who had suffered crop failure.
It had challenged the 10 July, 2013 order of the Gujarat High Court dismissing its plea for compensation and alleged that the farmers were being neglected by the state government.
Earlier, the apex court had indicated that the suicides may be linked to certain inherent deficiencies in the National Policy for Farmers, 2007, which may be revisited.
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